Summer Dhillon Giesbrecht has been a storyteller for as long as she can remember.
My cultural background encouraged a traditional educational path, so I spent the first 35 years of my life thinking this was my calling. After being accepted into law school, all I heard was, “Do you really want to do this?” My life story is about my voice. Why is it so important to me? Why did I spend most of my life ignoring it? And then, the moments after, I honoured it.
A culmination of losing my hero — my father — suddenly to cancer, separating from the kids’ father due to another tragic story, leaving my stable position with a communications agency, and the loss of my home, led to depression. This all happened within one year. I couldn’t face the world and lost the man who would have led me to ‘safety’. My son went to university, and my daughter and I moved in with my mother. Three generations of Dhillon women spent five years together before I met my husband of today. We married on International Women’s Day in 2016.
Looking back, I was paralyzed with fear. I decided to do what was counterintuitive and let go. I visualized a raging river current and allowed it to take me wherever it wanted to. For the first time, and out of pure exhaustion, I allowed the universe to lead.
I only started my own communications agency so that I could have the flexibility needed to raise the kids and earn a living. SLAP was born out of need, but the name —an acronym for S (success), L (love), A (authenticity), and P (pow) —came from my heart. The vision behind SLAP is being given the honour of sharing others’ stories.
My childhood was a story where storytelling accompanied meals —food was love —and travel was immersive, which fostered a love for world citizenship. Our slow travelling was a philosophy where we connected with people, loved everyone for who they are, and honoured their story in their own right. This is why SLAP specializes in food and tourism.
SLAP grew exponentially and recently celebrated ten years.
I lost a filter during this ten-year journey because I didn’t know how to care about perceptions anymore. Read daily affirmations like “Throw me to the wolves, and I’ll return leading the pack.” I heard myself calling it like it is during client meetings, leaving Board meetings to pick up my kids from school, fully expecting to be dismissed. I couldn’t ask for anyone’s permission anymore. My inability to care fostered the departure from taking the path that I was raised with to the one I am on today. Like I always say, the only way through the fire is through it.
We are here for a deeper purpose, and we betray ourselves by not pursuing the path we are meant to be on. I heard myself. Embraced my intuition. Used my voice to speak, mentor, and write and I will continue to.